Advertisement

Archive for Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Parent wants to protect kids against online smut

January 20, 2009

Advertisement

Dear Wes and Kelly: I just read your column for the week, and I agree that all we parents can do is make it a little bit harder (very little) for our kids to access the bad side of the Internet. There’s just too many unfiltered connections out there. I’m also aware of how disgusting a lot of material is out there and I’m wondering what else can be done to make kids better armed to deal with it and have it not affect them so much down the road.

Wes: I’m assuming here that you’re worried more about pornography than social networking sites — last week’s issue. The word “disgusting” pretty much gave it away.

History tells us that kids have always had an interest in pornography, though its content and availability have changed dramatically. Some outgrow or moderate this interest, and others remain fascinated well into adulthood. Researchers have tried to prove or disprove theories that porn is inherently problematic. Like many vices, the best we can say at this point is that it causes many problems for some people and very few for others.

Beyond that general debate, there’s little question that any potential problems are dramatically magnified for teenagers — just as they are for substance use, inattentive driving, etc. Kids hate to hear it, but there are some things they’re not fully prepared to process. Sexuality is certainly one of them. Of course, that hasn’t stopped anyone yet.

We’re all well aware from experience that our hormones are never more active and interesting than when we are between 13 and 25. It’s a biological dualism that goes to the very core of species propagation. We’re most excited about sex at the very moment we’re least ready to deal effectively with it. Ready access to porn simply puts this little conundrum on steroids.

This is because that imagery is so incredibly over-the-top that it’s really a sort of a cartoon version of what sex is about. It exaggerates every aspect of human sexuality — especially it’s novelty — to the point of freakishness. Exploration and the search for novelty is fundamental to teen thinking.

So what you’re up against is a very powerful set of drawing cards — strangely interesting sexual content, vividly portrayed to an exaggerated extent, at the touch of a button that is very difficult to censor. I don’t blame you for feeling powerless.

While I agree that making an attempt at filtering content sends an important message about your values and beliefs, I recognize it has its limits. The only real defense is to start from the age your children can communicate and start telling them the story YOU want them to learn about sex. As I’ve often noted, the very worst thing you can possibly do is avoid the subject or put it off until your child is 14. Any parent who can’t be comfortable or relaxed in these discussions needs to find a solid adult who is. Otherwise they’re essentially defaulting their kids to the story others want to tell.

As you seem to realize, that one may not have a very positive plot line. The other vital element is to live your life the way you want your kids to live theirs. If you teach your story through words AND actions it will be a lot harder for the other “storytellers” to hold your children’s interest. Because no matter how hard you try to censor them, they’ll get their shot. Be sure your version can compete.

Kelly: At this age, you can’t be with your children every waking moment of their lives. There comes a time when they begin a journey down the road of sexuality and self-discovery, and as much as you want to prevent them from facing the dangers that may lie ahead, you can’t.

Kids are not stupid. We observe and pick up on nearly everything. We pay close attention and know when you’re trying to hide things from us. As much as you attempt to shelter your children from our oversexed society, you’ll find that sexual content is plastered everywhere. Turn on the TV — there’s another Viagra commercial or provocative reality show. You listen to the radio, and you hear about some new drug that will “enhance performance.” Drive down the highway, and there is some half-clothed model on a billboard. Open your e-mail account, and you’ve been “spammed” with porn sites.

Times have changed. It’s not taboo to discuss sex anymore. Unless one plans on keeping children enclosed within their homes for 20 years, it’s going to be difficult sheltering them from this reality.

One thing to be sure of, is that you should trust your children. You’ve instilled your values and morals since birth; now it is a matter of time before such morals are questioned and put to the challenge. If you feel your child may be too young to understand sex and all its highs and lows, then just let them know that there is some very adult material out there and once they are older they will be more likely to understand. Tell them if they have any questions or concerns, it’s OK to come and talk to you about it. Educate them. Communicate. Prepare them.

If you attempt to keep your children from the negative sides of the Internet, at least tell them why you find it’s bad. But do realize curiosity is going to get them one way or another; it’s just a matter of time.

Next week: We’ll examine the “lost summer” after senior year and high school and how to help kids avoid it.

 Dr. Wes Crenshaw is a board-certified family psychologist and director of the Family Therapy Institute Midwest. Kelly Kelin is a senior at Free State High School. Opinions and advice given here are not meant as a substitute for psychological evaluation or therapy services. Send your questions about adolescent issues (limited to 200 words) to doubletake@ljworld.com. All correspondence is strictly confidential.

Comments

ImagineThat 5 years, 9 months ago

I hate to tell ya pal but this is real life. You are living in a fantasy.Just ask any cop on the street. You people are just like the smut on the net.You created it.

0

denak 5 years, 9 months ago

While I agree that parents must start talking to their children about sex from a very early age and that one should trust one's child, none of that really stops them from viewing material that is inappropriate especially if they are teenagers.I talked to my 17 year old son about sex and what was appropriate viewing and inappropriate viewing and I trusted him and then I got a $200+ cable bill. Seems his friends and his teenage hormones overrulled my attempts to shield him. (funny how that happens!)Now, everything is blocked and I don't have anymore huge bills. (sorry hun!) There is one thing as a parent we can do to try to limit a child's access to porn. In the last few years, there have been attempts to change porn address so that all address end in xxx as in hotluv.xxx instead of hotluv.com This attempt was met with fierce resistance by the porn industry which is a multi-billion dollar industry. They, of course, cried censorship. However, I don't believe it is. I think is is neccessary if we want to keep porn, especially the more violent porn, out of the hands of our children, we should lobby our congressmen and women to get the xxx designation. If you are an adult and want to look at these websites, you can and should be able to but if you are a parent and want to filter them, then a xxx designation would make it easier.If you think this is a good idea, write your Congressmen and women. Other than that, I have no practical advice other than put the computer in a central location and check their history afterwards.Dena

0

notajayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

ImagineThat (Anonymous) says… "You created it."I thought Al Gore did?

0

Flap Doodle 5 years, 9 months ago

duplenty, have you not heard of Sam Adams, Democratic mayor of Portland?

0

woodenfleaeater 5 years, 9 months ago

wait....wait...wait....let me get this straight. So what you're saying, snap, is that the guy that makes the beer is also the mayor of Portland?The one who likes interns?

0

georgeofwesternkansas 5 years, 9 months ago

Please rename this article.Parents want someone else to protect children from online smut, as they are too busy to get involved.I asume the are talking about children and not baby goats.

0

Kyle Reed 5 years, 9 months ago

News flash to logrithmic...not EVERYTHING is about politics and the two dominate political parties. You seriously need to take a break if you feel the need to interject it into everything you talk about.

0

notajayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

0

Kyle Reed 5 years, 9 months ago

Isn't this where someone is supposed to chime in with a unity message?

0

Kyle Reed 5 years, 9 months ago

Quick there is are some uncommented articles up!Here is a candidate for some of log's political stylings, "LMH’s addition of digital mammography services expected to improve breast cancer detection". Damn those rightwingers!!

0

Flap Doodle 5 years, 9 months ago

TOB, it would appear his copy book was so badly blotted that it couldn't be fixed.Tsk, tsk.

0

beawolf 5 years, 9 months ago

Much ado about nothing. Kids will always explore their sexuality. For me it was Playboys and Lady Chatterley's Lover. Sex is sex. The most important thing is that parents discuss with their children the ramifications of sexual contact and not be too concerned what about what they see or hear. Then perhaps they will make intelligent decisions regarding their own sexuality.

0

bearded_gnome 5 years, 9 months ago

bean-scooter/dupe-plenty got disappeareded...my heart is so broken! sure says a lot about dupe-plenty's lack of character. ***it sounds as if Kelly is in a way telling parents to give up on trying to protect their kids. I believe parents have to do the best they can, and get lots of information, perhaps install some software on the computer. but the talking is equally important. if you believe as Wes does that sex is just a biological imperitive, then its hard to indicate right and wrong beyond "survival of the species." not enough kids today are hearing that their are ultimate values involved in intimacy. that lusting after another man's wife is forbidden in the ten commandments. and, that there is more than a biological imperitive. I also am offended by the Biagra ads. yuck. "viva Viagra?" already felt elvis to be a preposterous figure...

0

bearded_gnome 5 years, 9 months ago

"Alas, poor Dupe-plenty, I knew him well."

0

TacoBob 5 years, 9 months ago

This article is surreal. Of course you do all you can to instill values in your kids. But to think this prepares them for the siren song of pornography is just beyond the pale. You can talk about sex early and often, but once the door is opened to smut all bets are off. Did any of you get 'prepped' for porn and just take it in stride when you first saw it? The world is so much different - porn can be viewed any time on demand. And the addictions are rampant. Life is a series of revealed secrets - or it used to be. Our children see this junk way too soon and way too much. Let them be kids as long as possible. Do yourself and your kids a favor - get a free filter like Bluecoat K9. It does an amazing job of screening out a lot of the junk out there. Your kids can see anything from 'harmless', 'normal' smut to utterly putrid filth of human and non-human relations - if you know what I mean. It is not the complete solution, but why just leave the door wide open to this junk and the predators that target your kids? Fight back!Don't give in and give up - use * every * option you have to protect your kids. They will get there soon enough, have no doubt.Check out Bluecoat K9.

0

compmd 5 years, 9 months ago

"There’s just too many unfiltered connections out there"And that is where this person fails. That is the point of the Internet. A federal appeals court overturned COPA (the Child Online Protection Act) because it is unconstiutional, violating the first amendment. Parents should quit whining about censorship and instead do their jobs and parent their kids.

0

TacoBob 5 years, 9 months ago

"And that is where this person fails. That is the point of the Internet".Is this a real argument? Of course it is all there on the Internet. Is that a reason not to filter it in your own home? Some cable channels have uncensored "R" movies. That's fine. But should I let my 5-year old watch them? Or should I "filter"?

0

notajayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

logrithmic (Anonymous) says… "Sorry rightwingers… calls em like I see em"And whine to the moderators when anyone questions you.log makes statements like "I mean there are many rightwingers that let their male offspring beat their female offspring and then laugh about it" and the rest of the content of his 1:34 rant, I suggest that maybe his judgment of conservative child-rearing capabilities is somewhat skewed if he himself typifies the product of liberal child-rearing, and my post gets yanked? Maybe I hit too close to home - does log have a parent who's on the award-winning LJW's post-police force?***The_Original_Bob (Anonymous) says… "Did Duplenty get disapperedededed?"sceneb... er, I mean duplenty's profile is still there. He did have a post pulled from this thread, though. Apparently the LJW no longer puts the red-stripe-of-shame in place of pulled posts, they just remove them entirely, but if you look at the user's comment history, the red stripe is there.

0

notajayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

TOB;In the recent past, when just a single comment was pulled, the red-stripe-of-shame replaced it, but when a member was eliminated, all their comments were completely removed without the red place-holder. (This accounted for many threads where it might say there were 24 comments but if you counted, there were only 20.)Er, um, at least that's what I've heard. ;)Apparently when the LJW did the recent update, they stopped putting the placeholder on the thread itself for removed comments, but as I said, it still shows up in the member's comment history.In any event, it looks like sceneb... er, duplenty... is still posting as of this a.m.If you want to see something really bizarre, switch to the Opera browser. You can get disappeareded and not even know it. Until you actually log off and back in, it shows you as logged in, you can even post, and the posts will show up in the thread - but only for you! Nobody else can see them. If you log in simultaneously with a different browser, like IE, all the posts are gone. It's like a movie where someone doesn't know they're a ghost - you can read comments talking about how you've been deleted, and post that you're not, and read the posts on the thread, and nobody else knows you're there! (Er, anyway, so I've heard.) ;)It's even more bizarre than re-appearing OTS columns.

0

notajayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

Coming from "Waaaaah-the-evil-conservatives-are-conspiring-to-keep-me-from-using-drugs"-logrithmic, that's quite amusing.

0

maxcrabb 5 years, 9 months ago

Unplug the computer. Take the power chord to work with you. Hell, maybe even hide the keyboard and mouse!Or, gasp, have a password that only the PARENTS know!Same for the TV!Keyloggers, time limited accounts, web filters, it's all legal if your child is a minor and living in your house. Just warn your respective spouses before they log onto their "favorite" sites, lest you influence your children in a very different way... (just so there's no misreading into this, I'm talking about adultery and divorce)

0

jehovah_bob 5 years, 9 months ago

It is only proper for a gentleman to walk on the outside (streetside) of the sidewalk and his lady walk on the inside (shopside) of the sidewalk, lest said lady should be splashed by a passing carriage or showered by filth from a tenant emptying their chamberpot from above.I know not of what you speak about the internets or teh google. Pish posh I say.

0

Judgesmails 5 years, 9 months ago

Porn at the touch of a button.We're creating a world of sexual deviants and pervs.I remember the good old days when you had to put some effort in to find porn.Its just too easy now........The internet is a giant sewer.Now, Please excuse me as i go back to my favorite sites

0

womanwarrior 5 years, 9 months ago

It sounds like it was a stupid choice for a preteen, but guess what. Life is all about consequences. Consequences teach you. I'm just real sure he'll never do it again, unless he isn't disciplined, then he'll say "Why not?:" And so will several other not so bright preteens, and before long someone gets hurt. And then all you "boys will be boys people" will want the school to be sued for not controlling the kids with parents who haven't become real adults yet. Follow the rules that are in place. If he doesn't learn a lesson, he'll never get it right.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.